1- Is the band "Chasing Eveline" based off of any actual 80's bands?
Great question! The band Chasing Eveline is not based on any one particular band, but it is influenced by several of my favorite bands from the 80s: The Cure, Depeche Mode, and The Smiths. I channeled into my Chasing Eveline songs all the feelings those bands evoked in me.
2- Can you share a story from your life that shows who you are as a person and why you are a writer?
I’m only ready to do things once I have determined that I’m ready. I’m a bit stubborn, I suppose. So I can’t start writing a story until I’ve lived with it in my mind for a while and I’m certain I have a sense of the characters and where I want the story to go. This could be traced back all the way to my childhood. My mom tried to get me to read, but I refused. I crossed my arms and said, “No.” At some point—after the time when I should have already started to read—I walked into my parents’ bedroom with a book in my hand and said, “Okay, I’m ready to read now.” That book was Timmy Mouse. And I haven’t stopped reading since then.
3- What ignited your passion for writing?
I can’t pinpoint an exact event or moment that ignited my passion for writing, but I think it stems from my imagination. When I was younger, I had two imaginary friends: People and Kikibrumbrum. I cannot explain the names J, sorry! But I seem to have always had wild stories and imaginary people swirling about in my mind, and that has led me to want to be a writer.
4- Have you been to Ireland?
Yes! It was amazing. The countryside is so beautiful, just like in the movies. And the people are fantastically friendly. One favorite memory of Ireland was sitting in a pub for hours chatting with all sorts of people, and another one was eating fish and chips wrapped up in newspaper by the side of the road!
5- Would you share a picture with us of Mr. Darcy posing with your book?
Mr. Darcy gives it two paws up! And he’s even started reading it!
6- What are some of your short and long term writing goals?
Each week I write a Photo Story on my blog. It’s so much fun to pen a story around a random photo. It also helps me work on my creativity and writing each week. Also in the short term, I’m working on a novel to be completed by August 1. In the long term, I hope to continue writing novels. Whether they get published or not, I want to make these stories inside me come to life.
7- Who is currently your biggest fan? What does that person love most (or "ship") about your debut novel?
So many people are cheering me on and helping me through this journey. So I’ll pick an obvious cheerleader: my mom! She’s so excited about my release. She’s handed out bookmarks to all her friends and talks up my book to everyone she encounters. She loves hearing about the process and wants to buy Chasing Eveline from every site where it’s available! Moms are the best, aren’t they?
8- I see you want to have a cookie delivery service. Do you have a favorite cookie recipe?
I love cookies, but I can’t eat just one. That’s why I wish there was a cookie delivery service that could deliver just one cookie to me on those nights when I’m craving a sweet treat! My favorite cookie is probably a snickerdoodle. And not just because I think that’s a fun name! I love the cinnamon-sugary goodness.
9- What emotions do you hope your book will evoke for the reader, and is there a particular scene you hope will resonate with readers?
I hope people will connect with the difficulty of hanging on to memories as they start slipping away. I hope there will be a few tears in some of the scenes with Ivy and her dad. There are for me because those scenes developed out of real situations in my life. But most of all, I hope there will be laughter. Ivy gets herself into some very awkward situations, something that hasn’t stopped for me even in adulthood!
10- What are your feelings on dog-eared pages, breaking spines, and notes in book margins?
I looove dog-eared pages. One of my favorite bookish things to do is to go back into books I’ve already read and turn to one of those dog-eared pages and read the quote that resonated so strongly with me. A flood of memories washes over me, and I love that feeling. The same applies to notes in the margins.
11- What most helped you to improve your writing craft?
I took an online class through LitReactor when I first started writing YA. It was taught by an agent/writer, so I learned a lot about opening scenes, writing for the YA audience, and about what agents/publishers look for.
12- What is the most memorable trait or visual oddity of one of your characters?
Ivy’s dad has the habit of tousling Ivy’s hair whenever he says hello or goodbye. He’s done this since Ivy was a kid.
13- #DiversityBingo2017 What's your favorite book that covers a square on the card?
I enjoyed Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy. Willowdean was a great character.
14- What are your feelings on the Gilmore Girls reboot (A Year in the Life) on Netflix?
I love everything Gilmore Girls. I have so many lines from all the episodes memorized. The reboot was fun to watch. I was so happy to get some more of Kirk and Rory and Luke. I wish there had been more Jess!
15- Which character has your favorite Personality Contradiction?
Ivy is both cynical and hopeful at the same time. Since her mom left her, she doesn’t have much faith in permanent relationships. Yet, her heart never fails to believe in love and happy endings.
16- What is your favorite band of all time?
I love so many bands, but the one I’d have to name as my favorite of all time is The Smiths. Those songs really captured so many of my feelings then and now. The lyrics, Morrissey’s emotional pleas, and Johnny Marr’s guitar…I love it all.
17- As a reader, what most motivates you to buy a new book to read?
I definitely am drawn to covers. But it can’t just be a beautiful cover. I’m most likely to buy a book if it’s YA contemporary or some comedian’s book. I love coming of age drama, but I also love a good laugh! I also stalk authors. So if an author I love has a new book out, I’ll buy it automatically.
18- How will you measure your publishing performance?
I don’t have any sales numbers expectations or review expectations. I just want my book to matter, even if it’s just to one person.
19- What was the deciding factor in your publication route?
I’m really not good at being patient. I queried agents for about a year, but it bothered me to be waiting for someone to choose me, to validate my writing as publishing-worthy. So I wanted to take things into my own hands. I decided to start querying small publishers as well. I had a lot more success and ultimately signed with Pen Name Publishing. This has been the best decision I could make for my writing career. Not only am I not still waiting for someone to choose me, but I’m working with a very supportive publisher and have had a lot of input during the entire publication process.
20- What is one discussion topic which you would like the readers of this interview to answer or remark on in the comments?
I’d love to hear how music has influenced people’s lives and what their favorite bands are. That’s something I hope Chasing Eveline makes people think about.
21- Anything else you would care to share about your book and yourself?
Sixteen-year-old Ivy Higgins is the only student at Carmel Heights High School who listens to cassettes. And her binder is the only one decorated with album artwork by 80s band Chasing Eveline. Despite being broken-up since 1989, this rock band out of Ireland means everything to Ivy. They’re a reminder of her mom, who abandoned Ivy and her dad two years ago. Now the music of her mom’s favorite band is the only connection she has left.
Even though Ivy wavers between anger and a yearning to reconnect, she’s one-hundred percent certain she’s not ready to lose her mom forever. But the only surefire way to locate her would be at a Chasing Eveline concert. So with help from her lone friend Matt—an equally abandoned soul and indie music enthusiast—Ivy hatches a plan to reunite the band.
The road to Ireland won’t be easy, though. And not just because there is no road. Along the way they’ll have to win over their Lady Gaga-loving peers, tangle with some frisky meerkats, and oh yeah, somehow find and persuade the four members to play a reunion gig. It’s a near-impossible task, but Ivy has to try. If she can’t let go of the past, she’ll never find joy in the present.
Leslie Hauser teaches middle school English and history. She is a Midwesterner at heart—born in Cincinnati, Ohio—but currently resides in Los Angeles, California, with her dog Mr. Darcy. She loves cupcakes, coffee, and most of all—music. You can find her on Twitter or Instagram at @LHauser27 or visit her web site at http://www.lesliehauser.com.